RPK, where art thou?

How he did his Houdini-like escape from Malaysia, however, has baffled the police. How did an elderly and not exactly limber man skip town with no one noticing?

Faizal Tajuddin, Malaysian Mirror

Raja Petra Kamarudin, who is high on the police list of ‘Most Wanted Blogger’, continues to elude capture and remains elusive from public view.

Popularly known as RPK, he is linked to the Selangor royalty and has been twice detained under the Internal Security Act for allegedly writing a seditious article in his Malaysia Today website, entitled ‘Let’s send Altantunya murderers to hell’.

He has fled the country and wrote in his blog that his self- imposed exile is “a punishment befitting a member of the Selangor royal family who has courted the displeasure of the palace".

He added that "after two ISA detentions, I do not plan to allow them to get me so easily the third time around.”

Self-imposed exile

RPK had twice failed to appear at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court and was issued an arrest warrant for missing the first hearing on April 23.

His excuse was that his self-imposed exile “outside Selangor” prohibits him from going to the PJ court.

He is now believed to be in Australia and his legion of fans think he had made a wise move to flee from his purported prosecutors.

How he did his Houdini-like escape from Malaysia, however, has baffled the police. How did an elderly and not exactly limber man skip town with no one noticing?

Did he wear a rubber mask, akin to Che Guevara, to dupe immigration officers at the KL International Airport? Did he use a fake passport? That would give him an “international man of mystery” mystique atop his “most famous Malaysian blogger” tag and, of course, a slightly rebellious slant that would appeal to the young crowd.

Did he pull a Hishamudin Rais and boarded a boat from a northern state bordering Thailand in the wee hours of the morning? Would it be a stretch of the imagination that he had sought refuge in a Buddhist monastery? If that is the case than he most certainly needs to lay low, as any rumours of him being sheltered in such a place could rattle his core Malay and Muslim fan base.

Political asylum?

The Star, quoting police sources, reported on May 24 that RPK had settled in Brisbane.

The paper added that the former ISA detainee had contacts there who had arranged accommodation for him and his wife, Marina Lee Abdullah.

If indeed he is now in Australia, it is still vague whether he is residing there under political asylum or merely staying under the care of some relatives and friends.

Australia is known to be a destination of choice for refugees and people escaping political persecution from their home countries.

He has probably chosen to be “Down Under” as he knew Malaysia does have an extradition agreement with Australia to allow our police to get him out of that country to face the music in his home court.

Former Bandar Kuching MP and Malaysian Mirror columnist Sim Kwang Yang wrote in his blog, Hornbill Unleashed that some fellow bloggers are implying that RPK is a coward to run to a foreign country, instead of appearing in court to bear responsibility of his words and actions.

He said, however, that many revolutionary leaders had exiled themselves in the past, when staying put under persecution would have meant an end to their cause.

He gave the example of Dr Sun Yat Sun, who lived in exile in London and various parts of Europe and Southeast Asia. “If he had stayed back in China to be trialed by the Manchurian Mandarins, his head would certainly have been chopped off. That would be the end of his revolution. Eventually, his revolution succeeded and changed the history of modern China.”

Sim also cited Ayatollah Khomeini, who spent 14 years in exile in Iraq, Turkey and France when the Shah of Iran was after his head. The Ayatollah directed his revolution from overseas and returned to his homeland in triumph after the Shah fled from Teheran on Jan 16, 1979.

Conceding that RPK is just “an ordinary Malaysian citizen” and hardly a revolutionary leader in the mould of Dr Sun or Khomeini, Sim added, however, that RPK’s “ceaseless opposition in fighting injustice has been seen as a threat to people sitting at the apex of the political food-chain of Malaysia.”

Sim, quoting examples from ancient Greece, said to be banished from one’s own state is worse than death as one would lose all sense of self-identity.

He added: “In modern times, the pain of exile has been softened. Even so, for people who love their country, being exiled is like being castrated. Once a political or social activist is banished from his homeland, he feels as if his soul has been murdered."

“After the great Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn was exiled to the USA, he felt so castrated in his soul that he could not write any more!”

It has been several months since he had been missing, leaving the public to speculate on his whereabouts, mocking the competency of Malaysian law enforcement agencies in the process.

But the police are bent on bringing him back to face the law in Malaysia and have sought the help of Interpol to trace him.

How could he evade capture!

RPK is no Jason Bourne. Should there be a concerted effort by international law enforcement agencies to hunt him down, there is no way he could evade capture.

Bourne fans who had seen his films, might remember one scene at an English train station where the man swiftly overpowered international agents as he plotted his escape from the grasping hand of the law. It would be a real stretch of the imagination for RPK to pull a similar stunt.

But such scenario, of course, is built on the premise that RPK is actually trying to avoid capture outside Malaysia.

What if he’s sitting back sipping tea somewhere in Kuala Lumpur and still writing his blog from within our borders?

Malaysia Today, incidentally, is still being updated regularly. The question is, is our man of mystery doing it from within or outside our shores?